C.J. Box’s Open Season is a rare debut mystery that “immediately sets itself apart from the crowd” (Booklist). This thrilling novel stars Joe Pickett, a game warden in Wyoming who finds his life in danger after he looks into a murder investigation and discovers a conspiracy involving an oil pipeline and its threat to an endangered species.
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The start of an adventure!
Joe Pickett is no Walt Longmire
Terser plot, less attention to pointless details, less hackneyed characters, a more compelling main character, more thought given to dialog and character development, fewer lengthy scenes in which some everyday activity is described in excruciating detail for no apparent reason. Also a top-notch reader can make me like just about anything.
Oh, so many things.I like "everyman" detectives better than the super-geniuses, but I had the majority of the plot figured out 1/4 of the way through this book, and the characters were dull and unlikable. Joe Pickett is naive, incompetent, and gullible. He is surrounded by straight-up moustache-twirling villains but can't recognize them for what they are. His wife is pretty and rather pointless as a character, her mother is predictably irritating. The children are basically plot devices.I had only the vaguest sense of the appearance of the characters and of the setting, but I got a disproportionate amount of detail at odd moments - for example, an excruciatingly detailed account of every Cheerio fed to a small animal by one of the children. BORING.I also got a bit annoyed right off the bat for what I'll admit is a somewhat superficial reason. As a minor bit of background detail, we learn that the main character's family had a kitten and later a puppy that were both eaten by coyotes. This is described as a family of animal-lovers, and I get that bad stuff happens, but how did both of these animals end up outside, unattended, long enough to get eaten by coyotes? The children were unaware of the fate of their pets so presumably they weren't playing with the critters outside. It was, like I said, a VERY MINOR POINT, but it still colored the way I thought of these people. These are people who were either dumb enough to leave two baby animals outside, alone, where they could be killed by the local wildlife (and the main character is a GAME WARDEN, it isn't like they're ignorant), or they are just so careless that both animals escaped the house and were left to fend for themselves. Obviously, it bothered me, and I found I didn't care for the Picketts.The author does not present information in a way that is interesting or insightful. It was plodding and quotidian. The author also tends to summarize what a character has said instead of revealing the actual dialog, which left me feeling cheated out of meaningful insights into the characters. I mean, the difference between "Joe told her he had a stressful day, and she seemed to understand," and an actual back-and-forth interaction between the couple is huge. I sometimes felt like I was reading case notes instead of a novel. Not fun.Where conversations occur, Pickett doesn't say much, but the other characters go off on improbably long diatribes about their own opinions with a fair amount of regularity. It doesn't ring true, and that's always especially noticeable in audiobooks.
I didn't hate him, and his voice wasn't annoying or anything, he just lacked panache. I've been spoiled by George Guidall, Barbara Rosenblat, Rosalyn Landor, Simon Prebble, etc. Also, a lot of the Southern and Western vernacular just didn't work. Imagine a straightlaced newscaster trying to sell lines like "They was out-of-staters," and you get the idea. The dialog (such as it was) all sounded a bit stilted.
None that I can think of.
I have obviously been spoiled by Craig Johnson's "Longmire" series. I'd recommend "The Cold Dish" to anyone (and I have! To lots of people!), but I'll never mention this one to anybody. However: this book seems to have huge rave reviews from lots of readers and a handful of mystified readers for whom the book just fell flat: maybe download a sample and see which kind of reader you are? I'm definitely in the latter camp.